It's the stuff of nightmares for every parent: endless mornings spent prepping school lunches. It's a circus of logistics that casts you as the ringmaster, juggling a full coffee mug while your little ones holler for cereal, then grabbing sandwich fixings as you're still rubbing sleep from your eyes.
There's more to making lunches than just smoothing almond butter together with a glop of strawberry jelly and searching the fridge for the last of the string cheese, however. Beyond the basics—sandwich, fruit, and yogurt—comes the snack conundrum. Most kids are clamoring for something sweet, crunchy, or salty in their lunch boxes.
Junk Food Hides Chemicals, Artificial Ingredients and GMOs
But all of those brightly packaged chips, crackers, and granola bars screaming out at kids from the supermarket aisles are hiding some pretty shady ingredients. Chemical preservatives, artificial colors, GMOs—if it's a big-name brand, it's probably in there.
High Fructose Corn Syrup in Your Nacho Cheese
Take typical nacho cheese corn chips, for example. These high-fructose corn syrup-filled “treats” not only pump up your child's insulin levels, but they might be contributing to hyperactivity, too. Heavy on the artificial colors (c'mon, you didn’t really think that bright orange powdered "cheese" color came from natural ingredients!), these additive-filled snacks have been linked to hyperactive behavior and learning disabilities in kids.
TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) Hiding in Your Kids Crackers
What about those little butter cracker sandwiches filled with peanut butter? Innocuous, right? Wrong. On top of the artificial coloring, these snacks contain a mystery ingredient known as TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) hiding between the crackers. This additive—used as a preservative to keep oils from going rancid—has been linked to skin allergies, nausea, and delirium.
Salted butter crackers are another kid favorite, but unfortunately, they're highly processed, full of TBHQ, loaded with sulfites (non-organic salt preservatives), and packed with trans fats. (Yikes!) While the FDA recently banned trans fats in processed food, calling these fats unsafe for consumption, the rules haven't yet fully gone into effect, which means you should steer clear of anything that contains them. Not only does trans fat raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, but it also lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. And that's a double whammy when it comes to heart health.
Is all of this making you feel pretty low about lunch? Don't worry, there are options—and they don't need to be bland to be healthy. As consumer demand for wholesome, non-processed foods has grown, a number of innovative companies have popped up to serve consumers looking for better choices.
One of our favorites? Late July Organic snacks. They’re completely organic, non-GMO—and ridiculously tasty. With everything from mini peanut butter or cheddar cheese sandwich crackers to taco-truck-inspired flavored chips like Bacon Habanero, Jalapeño Lime, and Nacho Chipotle, Late July Organics has all the healthy snack alternatives you need to make both you and your child happy.
Late July Organics founder, Nicole Bernard Dawes, dreamed up the company when she was craving crackers during her pregnancy in 2002. She decided to make healthier snacks so she could feed her child the best—and now you can feed them to your kids, too.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont